Diplomatic sources indicate that both Dhaka and New Delhi have begun 'preparations' for Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India later this year.
New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar had a "good meeting" with his Bangladesh counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen and both leaders noted that 2021 was a "great year" for the relationship and pledged to take it to a higher level in the new year.
"Good meeting with Bangladesh FM Dr AK Abdul Momen. Appropriate that it should be on International Mother Language Day. Noted that 2021 was a great year for the relationship. Committed to taking it to an even higher level in 2022," Dr Jaishankar tweeted.
Diplomatic sources indicate that both Dhaka and New Delhi have begun 'preparations' for Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India later this year. "The visit is expected to further accelerate the friendship between the two countries," a source said. India and Bangladesh are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relationship this year.
Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla said on Monday (February 21) that as Bangladesh commemorates fifty years of its independence, it ought to be noted that its "growth has proven its detractors wrong". Shringla also said that Bangladesh has emerged as a 'role model' for strong socio-economic growth.
Interestingly, at a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Bangladesh foreign minister Dr Momen said while India had offered Lines of Credit and Japan had also helped with infrastructure financing, incoming loans had been "declining", and it was China that had "come forward with a basket of money and aggressive, affordable proposals".
Dr Jaishankar was at the panel, along with counterparts from France, Australia and Japan, among others. In a dig at China, Dr Jaishankar cautioned countries seeking loans from Beijing. "We have now seen countries, including in our region being saddled with large debts. We have seen projects which are commercially unsustainable: airports where an aircraft doesn't come, harbours where a ship doesn't come," the External Affairs Minister said.
Obviously, the reference from Jaishankar was to the predicament Sri Lanka has landed. His reference was to the 'debt situation' in Sri Lanka, where there have been concerns over the Hambantota Port and the Mattawa Airport, both developed with Chinese loans. But Sri Lanka has struggled to pay back and ultimately handed over the port on a 99-year-old lease to a Chinese company.
Dr Jaishankar, a career diplomat and also an expert on China, said, "It's obviously in the interest of the consumer country concerned, but it's also in the interest of the international community because unsustainable projects don't end there. Often the next is, debt becomes equity, and that becomes something else."